Nuclear batteries are six times more powerful than chemical batteries. Scientists at Mizzou University have developed a nuclear battery that is the size and thickness of a penny.
According to the College of Engineering at Mizzou Jae Kwon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at MU and J. David Robertson, chemistry professor and associate director of the MU Research Reactor at Mizzou University of Missouri have been working together to develop a tiny nuclear battery to “power microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS.
These microscale devices or systems, usually smaller than a computer chip, currently deploy airbags, sense tire pressure, work in jet printers, measure biological contaminants, and perform whole scientific tests on what’s known as "lab on a chip."
Nuclear batteries are safe and have been in use for years to power “such [items] as pace-makers, space satellites and underwater systems”. But the batteries tended to be bigger and heavier than the devices being powered.
Kwon’s nuclear battery is much smaller, lighter and more efficient. The battery is the size of penny which is the smallest nuclear battery currently in existence.
Kwon with Robertson have also created a new semi-conductor for their nuclear battery that is liquid. Solid semiconductors can be damaged when the nuclear energy is harvested. A liquid semi-conductor take cares of that problem.
Kwon and Richardson hope to shrink the size of nuclear batteries even more. The researchers want to develop more powerful batteries “thinner than a human hair”. In order to accomplish this the scientists will be experimenting with different materials to see what works the best.
Kwon’s paper on his research was awarded “Outstanding Paper” at the International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems this past June. His research in collaboration with Robertson has also been published in Journal of Applied Physics Letters and Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry .